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Council of Churches of Greater Washington
Statement on Washington, D.C. General Hospital
March 12, 2001




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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Council of Churches of Greater Washington

5 Thomas Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202-722-9240
Fax 202-722-9241

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2001

Statement on Washington, D.C. General Hospital

Officers and Board members of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, at a regular quarterly meeting on Friday, March 9, 2001, discussed the pending proposal affecting Washington's D.C. General Hospital. What is under consideration is the proposal from Doctors Community Healthcare Corp. of Arizona to provide, through Greater Southeast Community Hospital, certain healthcare services now provided by D.C. General Hospital and to arrange for the provision of other services on a reimbursed basis by other hospitals throughout the city.

This proposal, supported by the Mayor and the D.C Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Control Board), has not won wide support among members of the general public, the City Council, the D.C. Hospital Association, and many members of the religious community, and has recently led to several angry confrontations between the Mayor and community leaders. The proposal raises serious questions about the availability of sorely needed healthcare services to uninsured or underinsured members of our community.

What should be a matter of civil deliberation among all interested and affected parties, or their legitimate representatives, over the issues of how best to deliver healthcare services to patients currently being served by D.C. General has deteriorated into bitter and divisive quarrelling that threatens to polarize our community. We fear that both our public medical and political health are being put in jeopardy in the present atmosphere, and that this jeopardy could quickly turn into a crisis for both under the pressure of the date of April 2nd now set for the turnover of D.C. General's functions.

  • Under these circumstances, we add our voices to those beseeching the Mayor and the Control Board to suspend the current deadline of April 2nd and to establish a realistic timeframe for a careful re-examination of the alternatives for providing the desperately needed healthcare services that D.C. General now and in the future could provide.
  • We strongly believe that a commission of representatives of the community being served and to be served, of medical and healthcare providers, of public and private healthcare insurers, and of the political and religious leadership of our city is needed to conduct an objective and thorough study to make recommendations to the Mayor, the City Council, and the Financial Control Board on this vital matter that will affect our city for many years to come.
  • Careful reconsideration after an appropriate examination by a select commission would help to gain greater public acceptance and support, restore the esteem of our public officials, and provide renewed confidence that we are a people fully committed to and capable of governing ourselves humanely as well as responsibly.
  • We urgently recommend that the pending proposal be tabled in favor of the type of reconsideration outlined above in order to avert a major setback, if not a disaster, in provision of the healthcare services in question to those in greatest need -- or, alternatively, that the issue of whether D.C. General should remain a public hospital be submitted to a referendum.

Attested to by:

Mrs. Annette C. Jones
Phone 202-723-8182
Rev. Robert A. Gessert
Executive Director
Phone 202-244-7576

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